How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken?

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Jellybeans
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2004/03/03 17:34:58 (permalink)

How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken?

Hi all! A bit of an emergency here:

I was going to host a Southern dinner for some American friends later this month but it suddenly got pushed up to this Saturday!

Now, I can get recipes for cornbread and mac-and-cheese off the relevant message boards here and I already have recipes all ready to go for iced tea, green bean casserole and peach cobbler.

But alas, no definitive (and simple) recipe for Southern style fried chicken. Anyone care to share one?

I was thinking of cheating a bit and serving roast chicken instead but wouldn't want to risk a revolt on my hands...
#1

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    Sundancer7
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/03/03 18:02:49 (permalink)
    There are many ways to fry chicken and I suppose it depends on how simple or how complicated you want to get. The Sundancer tends to do it very simple.

    I got a fry daddy to deep fry in but you can pan fry also. I do not use vegetable oil as I cannot stand the smell. I use canola or safflower. A lot of folks soak their chicken in a salt water but i do not. I prepare a flour mix with salt and heavy pepper with a little soul food seasoning in it. I roll my chicken in a egg that has been whipped and drop the chicken in a zip lock bag withh the flour mixture and I fry at 350 until a dark shade of brown. I have found that the breast takes a while to brown and the legs and thighs take a shorter time.

    If you pan fry, you can make a great gravy with the residual grease.

    I do not know how many you are cooking for but if it is for several, you will need a larger pan or a couple of smaller pans. I do not like to crowd my chicken.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #2
    Jellybeans
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/03/03 18:06:55 (permalink)
    Thanks, Sundancer! I'm looking for a simple recipe. By the way: what is soul food seasoning?
    #3
    Sundancer7
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/03/03 18:10:50 (permalink)
    Soul food seasoning is something I buy at Walmart in the spice section in the cheap section. It is a combination of garlic, onion, pepper and some other stuff. I think I pay $0.50 per container. They generally keep it on the lower shelfs.

    It adds great flavor.

    Again, I do not use vegetable oil cause it stinks the house up.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #4
    Art Deco
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/03/03 18:17:58 (permalink)
    I don't have a recipe written out, so here is one you can reference that I know will work with a bit of tweaking:
    http://southernfood.about.com/library/rec99/bl90821c.htm

    Here is commentary I would add to the linked recipe:

    The Chicken: I generally cut up my own, but you can get by with buying packs of legs, thighs and breasts. They should be on the bone and should have their skin. Do not try to use skinless, boneless pieces of chicken. Soak the chicken overnight prior to cooking. I have done this in lightly salted whole milk, brined water, and buttermilk. All work perfectly well for this purpose, though I slightly prefer salted whole milk.

    The Pan: Should be a deep skillet and be made of cast iron. The instructions re: temperature and timing given in the recipe are fine, but I would make two points: 1) make sure the oil is very hot (at or near 375) before you put the chicken in (it helps if the chicken is approaching room temperature before adding to the pan -- don't pull the chicken out just before dredging and then go straight into the pan -- a trick I use is to run hot water over the chicken and then quickly dry it off before dredging); and 2) do not put a lid on the skillet. Use a splatter screen if you can't handle the mess.

    The Oil: I get the best results with vegetable shortening (Crisco). Add a little bacon grease if you have some. Peanut oil will work in a pinch, though it will make the chicken taste a bit more like fast food chicken. Do not add too much oil to the pan -- depth should probably be no more than 1/2 -- 3/4 inch. You don't want to deep-fry the chicken. Oil should come just a bit more than halfway up the pieces.

    Draining: Absolutely nothing works better than a brown paper sack for absorbing chicken grease. Use one (just not the same one that you used to coat the chicken).

    Ignore the milk listed in the linked recipe unless you are going to make gravy.

    Good Luck!!
    #5
    Sundancer7
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/03/03 18:56:48 (permalink)
    Good job Pogo. The Sundancer is nowhere near the skills of Pogo and I would go with his advice. He tends to be very accurate and I tend to be very simplistic.

    I personally like a lot of black pepper with mine but that is a personal opinion.

    One reason I use a zip lock bag with the flour mixture is after dipping the chicken in the egg, I drop it the bag and shake the chicken very hard to get it thoroughly coated. I just find it easier than rolling it in the mixture.

    I noticed that Pogo uses vegetable Crisco. I think that is a solid. I have never done that. Regular vegetable oil stinks to much but I do not know about what Pogo uses.

    Good advice Pogo. BTW: I will be visiting Hays a week from this Saturday for some great BBQ.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #6
    Jellybeans
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/03/03 19:06:29 (permalink)
    Thanks Pogo! I'm cooking for around 6 people this weekend so I'll just get some thighs and drumsticks
    #7
    RedPatti
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/03/03 19:46:28 (permalink)
    Hi Sundancer7 and Pogophiles, I loved reading every word makes me want to go home and cook some.
    Jellybeans, Crisco is the only way to go for the best crispest chicken. If the chicken looks fresh I do not leave it in a liquid over night but have put it in a dish for 1/2 hour or so and the buttermilk will definitely give it a different taste than just good fried chicken. I do use the high temp and must have CAST IRON pan. I have a cast iron chicken fryer which has higher sides than a skillet but do not fill it more than an inch. Just a few pieces at a time dipped in flour with lots of pepper and some poultry seasoning. I cook, then turn the pieces, then cover 5 minutes or so to make sure the biggest pieces are cooked through than uncover to crisp and do the final browning. Personally I could just eat the crisp skin from the chicken and be happy. For the gravy I always brown the 5 tbls. flour in a separate dry skillet until light tan to get the floury taste out then add flour to the hot pan that has only about 5 tbls of the grease and browned bits from the cooked chicken. Add the flour and whisk til thick and browned add more salt and poultry seasoning and pepper. Add chicken broth (canned is okay) until you have the right pouring consistency and let it simmer until the mashed potatoes are done and you are ready to eat. If you have to keep the crisped chicken in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve. I have had proposals after cooking chicken this way. I can smell it now.
    Good luck! I know your guests will love you for it.
    #8
    Art Deco
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/03/03 23:44:04 (permalink)
    I find that buttermilk does tend to give the chicken a bit of a sweet taste. I think it is important to soak the chicken in some sort of salt-bearing liquid overnight (effectively brining the chicken). Makes a big difference in the flavor. Also, dont worry the pieces to death. Even the drunsticks. Just turn them one time. If your oil is at the right depth, they'll cook just right. Good luck!
    #9
    Jellybeans
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/03/04 04:40:52 (permalink)
    Thanks Red Patti and Pogo!

    Um... here in the UK, we don't have Crisco and buttermilk readily available. So I think I will have to use salted milk and maybe peanut oil?

    Can anyone confirm that adding a tsp of vinegar to 1 cup of milk makes an adequate substitute for buttermilk?

    What is poultry seasoning? I've been looking at some other different fried chicken recipes and I find that most include some or all of the following in their seasoned flour:

    Black pepper
    Salt
    Paprika
    Hot sauce
    Garlic powder

    Is that it?

    Thanks for the tip re keeping the chicken in a 200 degree oven (I assume 200F? 200C is really hot!). I'll probably have to do that because one of my friends who is a true blue Southerner from Arkansas is coming in to fry some okra! Yum!
    #10
    Alexander
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/03/04 08:08:01 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Jellybeans

    Thanks Red Patti and Pogo!

    Um... here in the UK, we don't have Crisco and buttermilk readily available. So I think I will have to use salted milk and maybe peanut oil?


    Can anyone confirm that adding a tsp of vinegar to 1 cup of milk makes an adequate substitute for buttermilk?

    What is poultry seasoning? I've been looking at some other different fried chicken recipes and I find that most include some or all of the following in their seasoned flour:

    Black pepper
    Salt
    Paprika
    Hot sauce
    Garlic powder

    Is that it?

    Thanks for the tip re keeping the chicken in a 200 degree oven (I assume 200F? 200C is really hot!). I'll probably have to do that because one of my friends who is a true blue Southerner from Arkansas is coming in to fry some okra! Yum!


    Use lard instead of Crisco. I would assume that it would be readily available, and it makes a gravy much less greasy tasting than the oils , butter, or Crisco.

    If you can't get buttermilk (the powdered variety works just as well as the fresh), just use fresh whole milk.

    Hot sauce in your seasoned flour would make it a paste. I prefer to go very simply in my seasoned flour, using only salt and pepper. I feel that this lets the flavor of the chicken be at the forefront.

    A previous post recommends a mixture of chicken broth and milk for the gravy. I use the following:

    Heat about 5 tbs of the fat that the chicken cooked in, according to how many people I'm feeding (keep all the little fry pieces in the pan).

    Stir in an equal amount of all-purpose flour, and cook this roux very carefully, stirring constantly until the roux is a light brown (if it scorches, it must be thrown out, so you might want to reserve the rest of the grease until after you make the gravy, as a sort of emergency supply).

    When the roux is the correct color, pour in sweet milk, stirring constantly, until the cooked gravy reaches the consistency of a light or medium cream sauce, according to personal preference.

    Bring the gravy to a boil, stirring constantly.

    Simmer the gravy for a few minutes, and correct the seasonings, making it slightly spicy with black pepper.

    BTW, this gravy is the basis for what is also used for chicken-fried steak, biscuits and gravy (made with bulk sausage), sawmill gravy, and a host of other dishes, varying according to what grease has been been rendered or used. This is in case you are host to another influx of Southerners.
    #11
    Art Deco
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/03/04 10:23:21 (permalink)
    I completely agree with Alexander, especially regarding using lard instead of peanut oil. In fact, lard is probably preferable to using a solid vegetable shortening, for that matter. Should give you a shatteringly crisp crust, which is what you are looking for... And there is really no need for anything in the coating except for flour, salt and black pepper. A pinch of cayenne or paprika won't hurt any, but I would definitely not add any garlic powder or hot sauce...
    #12
    Stephen Rushmore Jr.
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/03/04 11:13:16 (permalink)
    Feel free to reference the posted topic on fried chicken recipes posted earlier

    http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=212
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    Alexander
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/03/05 08:14:12 (permalink)
    Jellybean

    Please let us know how everything turned out.
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    Jellybeans
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/03/12 16:38:14 (permalink)
    Guys!

    Thanks so much for your help and tips!

    Let's just say that the Southern meal I prepared earned me TWO marriage proposals on the spot and my friend from Arkansas took a picture of his full plate (fried chicken, mac-and-cheese from scratch, green bean casserole, and fried okra) to show his granma when he goes home for spring break.

    We had peach crisp and double-cream vanilla ice cream for afters and he had TWO helpings... so did the other guy who hails from CA.

    Yessiree: Roadfood has helped me provoke two marriage proposals
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    RedPatti
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/03/12 19:41:58 (permalink)
    CONGRATULATIONS You have the talent to get the job done and it was appreciated. Proposals are ALWAYS GOOD! When you cook for friends it shows you are a loving and caring person, I'm glad your companions were gracious guests. By the way what did you finally decide to cook your chicken in? Lard is my families heritage (from South Carolina), but solid vegetable shortening is what I have used. Whatever you did use, did the trick.
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    Rex
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/03/13 06:45:31 (permalink)
    I am just getting around to reading this post and I'm sorry that I was not in on the offerings prior to your guests arriving. Fried chicken is something that I fix weekly for myself. (Gotta love the bird). Anyway, The Sundancer was mentioning a spice he picked up at wally world (walmart) for about half dollar. Well they carry some huge selection of cheap spices and I have about one of each I think. Anyway to get to the point, there was a poultry seasoning that I had gotten there at one time and it contained sage as the primary ingredient. Now here is how I make fried chicken. (North Carolina)

    3-4 cups of unbleached flour
    gallon zip lock bag
    4 tablespoons of poultry seasoning
    salt and pepper
    mix it up good
    throw in a few pieces of chicken and shake it up good (I use leg quarters)

    I use cast iron pans for frying. I get that pan red hot then add the oil. I just pour in some liquid oil (canola or peanut usually) about an inch of oil. Then when the oil is nice and hot I add the chicken. Nice and crispy results. I have too much oil left over to make gravy so I have to make the gravy separately.

    But for me, if I am cooking for more than just me I will have the following meal:

    Fried chicken
    Mashed Potatoes (with cheese melted on top)
    brown gravy
    green beans & white corn (mixed) OR collard greens
    Corn bread or homemade biscuits (honey & butter on the side)
    pickled beets
    *sometimes salad

    I know your company is already come and gone but if someone else wanted to know I wanted to contribute my 2 cents worth
    #17
    Jellybeans
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/03/13 09:26:48 (permalink)
    RedPatti: I used solid vegetable fat/shortening.

    Rex: Thanks a lot! I don't think I'll be frying chicken very often because we all went online to allrecipes.com to check the calories in it after dinner and we nearly died! (Southern friend said to roast chicken the next time--healthier).
    #18
    Scarlett
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/03/13 12:01:00 (permalink)
    I have a difficult time of determining if the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Sometimes mine comes out pink/red around the bones (which I cn't eat) or dry. I want to try Sundancers recipe.
    #19
    UncleVic
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/03/13 17:21:55 (permalink)
    Southern Chicken... When I worked for Chef Kolic in Indianapolis doing catering, all he did was wash the chicken, drain it, roll it in flour and throw it in the deep fryers. Here in Grand Rapids, we'd wash the chicken, throw it in bus tubs and coat it with buttermilk for several hours (Hand tossing the pcs. to make sure everything was coated now and then). Roll in flour then toss in a deep fryer.. Doing my research (I havent tried any of these yet, I see the marinate in salt technique, and also after rolling in the flour (or flour mixture) then chill it for a few hours (keeps the flour mix from falling off)... When using a commercial deep fryer, seems when the chicken floats to the top it's pretty well done.. When using a pan, make sure it's deep with plenty of oil and as someone said earlier, turn it once and dont worry about it!
    #20
    Rex
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/03/14 11:27:15 (permalink)
    Scarlett...I know what you mean, I hated cooking fried chicken when I first started because it never got done down close to the bone. I hated that...very embarrassing. But this is what I do now:

    When I cook chicken..I open fry it. I usually cook it on a medium low temperature. The dials on my stove are 1-9...and I set my temp for 2.5 (if that makes sense).

    Once the chicken is browned on the bottom, I flip it over and then let it brown on top..then I flip it again and take a fork and puncture it close to the joint of the leg bone - this is with leg quarters (thigh & leg as one piece). It seems that that is the thickest part of the meat. If after a little more cooking the juices coming out run clear...it's done. Most of the time it works well but if I have abnormally large leg quarters...it may be a little underdone.

    But the pan and the oil being super hot is what works for me when I put the chicken in to cook....that makes a big difference it seems

    Jellybeans: I don't blame you for not frying any more chicken (lol) the whole basis of southern cuisine is based on "frying" & "grease". If you aren't raised around it then it is hard to deal with. But that is strictly a cultural thing. But when you are raised on it....you never give it a thought.
    #21
    Scarlett
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/03/14 15:26:41 (permalink)
    Rex... thanks for the tips! I'll certainly try that next go around. I have found it's exceptionally difficult to judge when the chicken is 'done' when chicken is purchased "already cut".. one quarter will be huge and one quarter will be a more normal size.. so one piece will be rqw and the another piece dry. I don't have a problem cutting a chicken and I believe the overall results would be to better as the pieces of the chicken would be the same size. I personally think the smaller the bird the better the taste. What do you think?
    #22
    Rex
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/03/14 16:44:47 (permalink)
    Scarlett - with me being a single guy living alone...I buy leg quarters by the gross at the meat market and bring them home and bag them 2-3 to a bag and freeze them and use them every few days to eat. I like bird. Gotta love the bird . Anyway, if I fix 2-3 pieces it makes it worth it to cook and it lasts a few days. I fix different sides with it and it works out pretty good. But I can't say I can't really tell the difference in taste. I hate cutting up chicken...I never got the hang of it...so the only time I work with whole chickens..is when I bake them whole or make a stew and stew them whole until the meat falls off the bone.
    #23
    stridge
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2004/04/07 12:04:07 (permalink)
    My Grandmother used to add a little water in the skillet, and cover it.
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    AndreaD609
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2006/04/15 20:40:54 (permalink)
    I must tell you how to prepare the BEST fried chicken in the world! My Mom made it like this since I was a little girl, and now I make it all the time for myself and fiance! You get a package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut it up how you want it. I prefer strips. Mix three eggs (per package of chicken), a little bit of milk, and some Tony's Chachere's in a large bowl and add chicken strips to the bowl. It's best if you can do that at least two hours or more before you cook so they marinate and get really tender, but if not...it's still great. Put some flour and a bunch of Tony's Chachere's in a large freezer bag. Put the chicken in and shake to coat the chicken. Fry until done. When you first pull them out of the oil...Set them onto a plate with paper towels to get the grease out of it somewhat and sprinkle MORE Tony's Chachere's on top. But not too much..Just to give it seasoning on top of the crust. It's the BEST chicken ever! It's semi-spicy..The more the Tony's the better! If you have no idea what Tony Chachere's is...It's probably because you aren't from the South..around Louisiana! Good luck with it! I'm cooking the fried chicken now! It's best served with mashed potatoes, black eyed peas, fried okra and sweet cornbread!
    #25
    WVHillbilly
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2006/04/15 21:23:33 (permalink)
    jellybean, Don't forget the cheese grits!
    Keep the oil temp right on that chicken!
    #26
    nvb
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2006/04/15 22:43:36 (permalink)
    My comment on chicken doneness is to buy a thermometer. (Digital because they take the temp from the end and not the shaft.) It'll be a good friend.

    Chicken filet cook to 160F
    Chicken with bone cook to 170F.
    Whole chicken cook until the thickest part of the thigh is 180F.
    Remember that the meat temp will rise approx. five degrees after you remove it from the oil depending on the surrounding conditions.
    #27
    BhamBabe
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2006/04/20 00:26:17 (permalink)
    I was surprised to not see anyone preparing it the way my mamaw did and taught me.

    Soak pieces over night in buttermilk. When you get up in the am take a bag and add flour, salt and pepper, drop pieces in one by one and coat well. Place on wax paper covered plate, cover and place back in the fridge. Let it get good and cold. Take out right before cooking and using a cast iron skillet and criso (I agree I like the solid)let it get hot, place chicken in without crowding it, brown and turn down the heat. You should only turn once or twice and never use a fork. You can cover to cook, then uncover the last 15 mins to crisp up the skin again.

    She explained the reason for chilling a second time as, the gluten relaxes and the chicken being cold the coating puffs up quickly, sealing in the juices and keeping out the oil. Never served a greasy piece ever and the coating was always light as air.
    #28
    brightcopperkettles
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    RE: How to Cook Really Good Southern Fried Chicken? 2006/04/20 03:34:38 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by BhamBabe

    I was surprised to not see anyone preparing it the way my mamaw did and taught me.

    Soak pieces over night in buttermilk. When you get up in the am take a bag and add flour, salt and pepper, drop pieces in one by one and coat well. Place on wax paper covered plate, cover and place back in the fridge. Let it get good and cold. Take out right before cooking and using a cast iron skillet and criso (I agree I like the solid)let it get hot, place chicken in without crowding it, brown and turn down the heat. You should only turn once or twice and never use a fork. You can cover to cook, then uncover the last 15 mins to crisp up the skin again.

    She explained the reason for chilling a second time as, the gluten relaxes and the chicken being cold the coating puffs up quickly, sealing in the juices and keeping out the oil. Never served a greasy piece ever and the coating was always light as air.

    Well I sure didn't know that about putting the chicken back in the refrigerator. Interesting...I'll have to try that.
    #29
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